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Old 08-01-2006, 06:04 PM   #1
Stuart Young
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Do you know where to find illegal e-book content?

I was chatting to Alex recently, regarding e-book piracy. An it got me thinking, how many of you Mobileread(ers) actually know where to get illegal e-book content from? No, this thread isn't for trading links, etc! However given the fact devices like the iLiad are now available, I'm sure we'll be seeing more about this type of content theft in the news.

Example: do you own a hard copy of a book, and then "found" an e-book version online that you could have downloaded to your e-book device?

Related: Harry Potter 6 e-book already being pirated!
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Old 08-01-2006, 06:26 PM   #2
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Hmm, admitting to that, could get you in jail ... couldnt it?

Well, i know several illegal sources on the internet, to obtain ebooks. And i have to say. I have downloaded a few. At the moment, i am buying books in paper form and download them for reading them on my iliad. I know, thats not legal, but i have to say, thats fair use to me.

Started reading "Moving Mars" from Greg Bear as pbook, then got the iLiad and continued reading there. I have "Wheel of Time Book 11" as hardcover on my shelf for quite some time now, but i will read it as ebook on the iLiad. And thats the same with several other books. (China Mieville, Perdido Street Station e.g.)

So even if it is illegal, i will continue to do it like this. Because i paid for it, and i could make a digital copy of my own, if i wanted to, and purchasing ebooks legally costs almost the same as the pbook and doesnt even give you the advantage of reading it on the device of your choice.

If that makes me a criminal, then i guess i am. (though a charming one )
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Old 08-01-2006, 07:49 PM   #3
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Agreed

I have to agree 100% with Tribble. I do limit myself to the books that i have purchased with the ironic exception being a specific book that was only available as an ebook, but with no way to preview it. I'm not saying that I am too good for downloading ebooks with out the pbook also, but i do find that if it's an author that i enjoy, my natural inclination is to support that person through the purchase of their work, but not the double purchase :P I'm personally hoping to soon see an electronic copy bundled with every pbook out there, wether it is by including a copy in the book (tiny disc, Micro dot, etc) or with a simple serial number or code to then download it from the publisher's web site.
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Old 08-01-2006, 08:19 PM   #4
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See my rant on the new DRM being proposed.

I'm guessing if publishers made it easier to use a book in the format you wanted/needed based on the hardware you have, they would more than make up in new, legitimate sales than they would ever lose from people that don't want to pay.

They need to remember, those people that don't want to pay now USE A LIBRARY. Duh.
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Old 08-01-2006, 08:24 PM   #5
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Yes, I know where to find illegal ebooks. <cough>usenet<cough>. Excuse me.

I find that if I enjoy an author, I either buy the book or borrow it from the library (my county library here offers a limitted number of ebooks in MobiPocket format, which is actually what got me using their reader).

The only books that I buy in pBook and then download are the Harry Potter books.

I tend to buy books in MS format so that I can down-convert to HTML and then reformat to my preferences. I haven't bought any Mobi content yet, and I can't say that I plan to. Actually, I can't say that I plan on buying ANY DRMed eBooks that I can't downconvert to some markup language and clean up...

Which reminds me... Sorry to change subjects on you, but has anyone heard that Amazon is no longer going to sell eBooks in PDF or LIT, and exclusively sell Mobi format? A friend mentioned this to me today, and I noticed yesterday that their "eBooks" section was removed, and tells users to go to MobiPocket.com -- but you can still find some books in the aforementioned formats. I know Amazon bought MobiPocket so this wouldn't be too surprising, but it does seem a bit extreme to me.
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Old 08-02-2006, 05:52 AM   #6
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I don't know where to find it, but I am sure I could find out pretty easily.

I have downloaded books that I already own. I see no problem with that.

The law of the land even allows me to download books that I do not own. I even pay money for that in fees on photocopying and on CD- and DVD-roms.
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Old 08-02-2006, 05:57 AM   #7
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I think the important question here to ask is whether e-book piracy -- which can easily be found thanks to Google's immunity against the law -- will stimulate the sales of legal e-book in the future.

In other words, could piracy help e-books to become more mainstream, similar to the recent transition of MP3s?
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Old 08-02-2006, 06:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
In other words, could piracy help e-books to become more mainstream, similar to the recent transition of MP3s?
Hmm, i would think, that ebook piracy is only marginal at the moment. Since no real ebook readers are available to the public, there is no demand for electronic books, but with a few geeky people. (And people, who spend 650 Euros on an ebook reader are probably willing to spend a few bucks on books )

When readers become more popular and schools start using them, then it might become an issue.

I just hope, that publishers and authors will be smarter about DRM than the rest of the world, and just get rid of it. I bet its easier, to sell an ebook for a reasonable price (at least cut the complete print and most of the distribution cost) than spend so much money on DRM, and then have noone left to buy the books.
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Old 08-02-2006, 09:31 AM   #9
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Well, there are those who see white and black and those who see only shades of grey. Maybe a better man than myself could identify shades of white in this world, I never could. I'm not even sure of this, but are copyright laws the same for works and translations? After making so much profit on uncopyrighted material, shouldn't publishers be forced to release the digital text to the public or at least to projects like gutenberg.org? Not sure how much money a author makes off a work, 10%? Between 1 and 2 dollars? What are the grounds for a ebooks costing 7 dollars other than how cheap "deadwood" printing is? But should we get beyond those problems, how much would it cost pay someone 2 dollars for content anyhow? I believe that is impossible, I'm certain online credit card companies have a per transation fee very close or ever higher than that amount. Let's not mention the government refusal to digitalize the whole of the Library of Congress for a mere 2 million. I'm sure there's hope somewhere, you just need a better man to see it.
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:09 AM   #10
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I was introduced to digital books by someone after they learned that I was having difficulty reading paper books.

It was a revelation to me and I haven't looked back since. Not only can I increase the font size and contrast to suit my eyesight but I can have hundreds of books taking up a very small space.

I still buy lots of paper books – but I don't read them. I scan them and create digital books that I can read more easily on my reading device.

During my learning process I found several sources of illegal ebooks. The quality of these is variable – sometimes very good and sometimes awful. Nevertheless, even the awful ones can be edited to near perfection when I have a paper copy in hand to refer to. I will often do this, download an ebook and if I think I will like it I go buy the paper book so I can edit the digital copy. I am very fussy in this respect and like good proof-reading.

I share them with my friend who is blind who uses the text-to-speech facility on her computer. I bitterly resent the draconian restrictions that come with purchased e-books. They do not allow text-to-speech amongst many other things.

So if these actions make me a criminal so be it – I feel that if these publishers won't play fair with me then I won't play fair with them.
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Old 08-02-2006, 11:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonraker
I was introduced to digital books by someone after they learned that I was having difficulty reading paper books.

It was a revelation to me and I haven't looked back since. Not only can I increase the font size and contrast to suit my eyesight but I can have hundreds of books taking up a very small space.

I still buy lots of paper books – but I don't read them. I scan them and create digital books that I can read more easily on my reading device.

During my learning process I found several sources of illegal ebooks. The quality of these is variable – sometimes very good and sometimes awful. Nevertheless, even the awful ones can be edited to near perfection when I have a paper copy in hand to refer to. I will often do this, download an ebook and if I think I will like it I go buy the paper book so I can edit the digital copy. I am very fussy in this respect and like good proof-reading.

I share them with my friend who is blind who uses the text-to-speech facility on her computer. I bitterly resent the draconian restrictions that come with purchased e-books. They do not allow text-to-speech amongst many other things.

So if these actions make me a criminal so be it – I feel that if these publishers won't play fair with me then I won't play fair with them.
Actually, in the US I think anti discrimination laws trump copyright so you are probably legal.
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Old 08-02-2006, 12:00 PM   #12
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A couple of years ago I knew where to download them from (IRC), but now I have forgotten server and channel. Shouldn't be to difficult to find again, as soon as I get a Sony eReader.

When I start again with ebooks, I will buy them as pbooks and get them as ebooks elsewhere. I think that would qualify as fair use. However, I am not paying twice for a book, and never with any DRM.

Sometimes I DL the ebook, read it, and buy the book as soon as it's out as paperback. I know this is not fair use at all, but I like to see it as "try before you buy". After all, in my usual bookshop I can return a book after 7 days with no reason at all, and I read faster than that. Don't get me wrong, I don't usually return books, but I could.

I don't agree with the current business model for most ebook sellers, and I am not buying any ebook until this changes. Paper seems to be only a small part of the price of a pbook. Printing house, delivery, and bookshop are not needed for ebooks... eBooks cut the costs hugely compared with pbooks, yet the consumer pays the same or almost the same. It's wrong.

Give me cheap, open ebooks, and they will have me as a consumer. On the mean time, trees will keep getting the chop.
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Old 08-02-2006, 12:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tribble
Hmm, i would think, that ebook piracy is only marginal at the moment.
Hi,

Are you forgetting all of the users of pda's and cellphones who do a lot of reading on these devices.

The Harry Potter thing is a prime example, one hour after it goes on sale,it starts to show up on the internet and within 24 hours, is widely available in a number of formats for the PC or your pda.

Now this is a rarity for a book to show up this quickly but there are lots of examples of major releases showing up within days of release.

You may not use a pda or cellphone as a reader but there are a lot of people who do and not all of them buy the content they read on said device.

As for finding this illegal content, usually you can stumble upon it without even looking for it.

Even a simple google search for a book title will give you places to find this content.

I think as long as certain books are not available for electronic use or the person already has a paper version of said book, this group of users will be very active.

David
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Old 08-02-2006, 01:55 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by lordvetinari2
After all, in my usual bookshop I can return a book after 7 days with no reason at all, and I read faster than that. Don't get me wrong, I don't usually return books, but I could.
And some small number of people probably take advantage of paper books by scanning or copying or returning books. But fortunately paper booksellers don't put locks on the books they sell to make it only readable by one person, and light filters on each page to make it uncopyable, and image capture to make sure only you read it and only from one easy chair!

No, there's a huge gap for paper book pirates. Yikes! How do they ever stay in business?!!!

Imagine if the book industry were to act like the RIAA... they would post observers at every location with a copy machine. They would ask for copy machines to track copies made. They would supoena local copying stores for video records of patrons that are suspected of making illegal copies. They would sue the heck out of everyone they can find. So my question becomes whether they could actually elminate the illegal sources we are talking about (no!), or if they would actually make more money (no!).

<Sorry, I seem to get on this track everywhere I turn today. Back off my soapbox.... again!>
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Old 08-02-2006, 02:00 PM   #15
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Actually, in the US I think anti discrimination laws trump copyright so you are probably legal.
Actually in the US the ADA does not trump the DMCA. The copyright office was recently soliciting comments from the general public to provide it with guidance about circumstances where the copyright office should allow folks to disregard the DMCA and break DRM systems. They have made no rulings yet based on the collected comments.

My first foray into DRM eBook content was via Gemstar. I bought into their original program in which you paid a small (compared to the iLiad) fee for the reader and then agreed to pay them $19.95 per month for two years. The $19.95 was credited to your ebook store account and could be used to purchase content or you could just let it pile up, your choice.

When their fire-in-the-belly died of cancer Gemstar pulled out but made sure content owners would still be able to access their content, even going as far as to allow Fictionwise to take over some of their customers and transfer their content.

I still have quite a bit of respect for Gemstar and would welcome them to take over distribution of a device like the iLiad in North America.

My second foray into DRM ebooks was Adobe. Ack, argh, *ugh*... Never again. Suffice it to say that while Adobe may understand DTP, they don't grok ebooks.

My third foray into DRM ebooks was MS Reader. A wonderful platform that could use some obvious tweaks to make it even better. However, IMHO, Microsoft has lived down to the court ruling of being a consumer harming monopoly and I've lost access to some of my purchased content due to Microsoft's not really giving a damn whether I can continue to either access older content or even continue to purchase new content (you can't activate MS Reader under the Vista beta.)

To be frank the format I like the best is that employed by Baen Books: we trust our customers. Only criminals steal books, only criminals steal ebooks. The more you try to keep ebooks away from criminals the more you alienate yourself from your honest customers whom actually pay you (and thus pay your pay check.) I have a large book shelf with Baen stocked with their regular ebooks as well as their highly addictive Advance Reader Copies that take "Hard Back" to a whole new level (and boy do I enjoy having advance access to some of their works!) I happily shell out the money to them and my only real complaint is that I wish they could spend some of it on a faster internet connection.

Some publishers though will respond when you write them. My favorite case in point is Ellora's Cave. Their web site was an absolute disaster: lending a book is theft, thank god we can stop people from lending ebooks!

I wrote them an email pointing out how alienating the tone of their web site was and 'lo, they woke up and changed the tone of their policies and their site (although I still haven't gotten a copy of "Walking on the Moon" that I can resize the font of... my original grievance for visiting their site.)

I had been reasonably happy with Fictionwise until they sold me "Walking on the Moon" and then didn't stand behind their product. Customer service is very simple to understand, very simple to do correctly, but somehow they couldn't bring themselves to take care of my broken ebook. So I haven't really bought much more from them.

Amazon, they still amaze me by offering to sell me the paper back, and because I'm a Prime member, ship it to me for less than I can buy the MS Reader version. My mind still boggles that the eBook can cost more than selling and shipping me the paper back. Either the paper back publishers are giving books to Amazon below cost or MS and Adobe are collecting too much in ebook taxes...

I have to admit I didn't really commit to purchasing an iLiad until after I read the posting about their development plans, especially the open developer program. The major reason I feel the Palm survived and the Newton failed was over the open-ness of the two platforms. Some how I don't see Sony changing their spots with the new Sony Reader.

But getting back to the original topic of the thread, , yes, I know where to find ebooks online. I also know where I've bought ebooks and gotten burned by supposedly reputable companies. And yes, I know where to find illegally sourced ebooks: but only criminals steal and I'm not a criminal, even though I'm regularly treated like one by those supposedly reputable companies whom have sometimes acted like criminals themselves and ripped me off.

In my opinion the solution to the ebook business isn't another DRM, its trust. Most people are good honest folk. And as the iPod has I think proven, if you give those honest people easy, reliable access to content at a price they find reasonable, they'll buy rather than steal.

Or as one of my law professors in college said "You can leave cold beer out on your front porch on a hot sweltering day and honest folks will take it. But if you put a can out with '$1' written on it, honest folks will put dollar bills in the can and you won't even have to stand there. But part of the reason there is law is because there are those whom not only would take the cold beer and not put $1 in the can. But would also reach into the can and take all those $1 bills they find in it..." or as we see all too often these days, even if you stand over the can, they'll shove a gun in your face and take the $1 bills... and then shoot you anyway on the way out. No DRM will protect you from these people.
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